The Best Food for Discus Fish

Have a discus fish and have questions about its diet? Love your pet but don’t know what feed to provide it with? If the answer is yes, then you need not worry as now you’ll know exactly what kind of food your fish requires and where to get it from.

As a starter you need to know that your discus fish can feed on. Basically, anything which can include fish flakes, pellets, and frozen or even live food can be ingested by discus fish. The best food for your discus fish would be a variety in order for them to get all the nutrients necessary for their growth.

Hence, diet is always a necessary aspect to look for and discus fish owners should be very particular about what they’re feeding their pet.

Discus fish basics: Feeding / food (Video)

The types of discus fish food

Given below is a detailed account of all the types of food that discus fish eats.

Dry Food

One type of good discus fish food is dry food. This type of food contains many essential nutrients for the discus fish. This type includes fish flakes and fish pellets.

However, you should be careful when you feed your discus fish with dry foods. For example, ensure you supplement fish flakes with live food in order to attain optimum health for your discus fish as far as essential nutrients are concerned.

Also, ensure you soak fish pellets before feeding them to the discus to avoid bloating of the discus fish. We highly recommend high-protein flake foods and high-protein beef heart flakes


Just like regular fish, your discus fish can also be fed bloodworms, black worms and also white worms. All these happen to be one of the best foods for discus fish in terms of nutrient content. More so, they can be easily acquired in almost all the local pet stores and can be stored in preparation for feeding them to the discus fish.

It is recommended for you to stay away from live worms and only feed frozen worms as live worms can have parasites and get your fish sick!

Brine shrimps

Brine shrimps are another nutrient based diet for your discus fish and as a matter of fact a good substitute for worms. This is because they are rich in vitamins as well as minerals. They can either be frozen or live brine shrimp.

Be careful to rinse them to remove any salt that may be on them though before giving it to the discus fish and incase it was frozen, ensure you defrost them first. This is the best food for strengthening the discus fish colors as it contains beta carotene.

Other options

Apart from the above main food types, some discus fish keepers also opt for homemade food for their fish and they use cow hearts to make them. One major setback for this however is that they dirty your discus fish tank and hence it would require more regular cleaning.

All in all, discus fish generally and naturally prefer live foods and those are the best foods you can give them.

Guidelines for feeding your discus fish

One of the biggest mistakes made by beginners is that they tend to over feed their discus fish which in turn leads to fish obesity, this results in a whole lot of health issues, and a dirty tank.

The general rule sustained b most discus fish keepers is to feed them about 3% of their body weight per feeding. For example, an adult discus weighing 75 grams should be fed approximately 2.25 grams of food per twice daily feeding.

Smaller discus fish have a faster metabolism than larger ones. If food is not consumed within 15 minutes of administering, then the food should be removed to maintain proper water cleanliness as your discus fish is quite sensitive to the cleanliness of its surroundings.

You should administer live food as clumps directly into the tank, while flakes and freeze-dried food should be sprinkled on the surface of the water.

In the natural habitat of the Amazon, discus fish are carnivores, so those kept in your aquariums should be provided an equal nutrient level as to what their relatives hunt in the wild.

In its juvenile stage your discus fish might even need a 50 percent protein based diet while when it matures it will require around 35 to 40 percent protein in its diet. It is important to note that their entire diet is not protein, however, and must be supplemented by both fats and vitamins.

Hence, a combination of live food, frozen food, and freeze-dried food must be used in order to obtain all of the correct ratios of protein to fat, fat to vitamins, etc. Live food is a very important ingredient to be kept at hand at all times as your younger discus fish will prefer live food rather than starting with freeze-dried flakes or frozen food right away.

Discus fish, like every other living organism, require certain vitamins in order to maintain their nutritional needs.

Vitamins are not only a source of energy, but instead provide the necessary building blocks for proper functioning, immune, reproductive, and digestive systems, especially for the production of enzymes within the body. Crustaceans, vegetables, and algae prove to be some of the best sources of vitamins for discus fish.

Tubifex worms

Tubifex worms, which were a staple of the discus diet by breeders in the past, are another food source that is still used today, but much less often. The reason for its obsolesce is its feces based diet which means if these worms are contaminated they can lead to poisoning in your discus fish.

Unlike humans, who are sick for a few days and recover, discus fish, when they consume contaminated food, will turn a blackish color and then die shortly. Some people have had no problems and still use tubifex worms as a main food source, but others choose not to use them at all as a precautionary measure.

White worms are another very popular live food to feed discus fish. They are stock full of proteins and are especially good for picky discus. At only half an inch in length, this protein packed diet is easy for you to cultivate at home using just a plastic container and layer of peat soil.

By feeding the worms a diet of bread, oats, and raw sausage mixed with water, a whole breeding community of white worms can be sustained and later provided to your discus fish. White worms are also especially beneficial for stimulating the conditioning and breeding of discus fish as they are also high in fat, allowing the fish to quickly add size and mass.

Beef heart

Another popular food type among discus keepers is beef heart which usually comes in its frozen form. However, discus beef heart is very rare in the market and hence you should order the item days before at your local food buyer. Due to its rare availability it is a form of diet used once or twice a month by the pet owners.

However, beef heart is ought to be used with caution as it is not a normal part of the discus diet in the wild. Containing upwards of 18% saturated fat per serving, too much beef heart can lead to digestive issues and other related illnesses, but when administered in small, carefully regulated amounts, it can be highly beneficial to the fish.

Many different discus breeders use beef heart to fill out smaller discus as it quickly adds size to make discus fish look bigger and stronger. It is also a quick way to raise baby fry.

Mixing up the discus fish diet

Some discus keepers innovate and decide upon adding combinations of different vegetables such as peas, carrots, cabbage, and red peppers to create a beef heart mixture that can be scooped into small spheres and placed at the bottom of the tank or to the sides.

Others prefer a mixture of either chicken, turkey, or mutton hearts with the beef heart to provide a variety of tastes to the finicky discus fish.

Are fats necessary for your discus fish?

In addition to protein, discus fish also need an ample amount of fats in their diet in order to maintain optimum health. In addition to the live white worms mentioned above, crustacean oil is also an excellent source of fats necessary for the nutritional needs of the discus fish.

However, Crustacean oil is typically omitted from flake foods so what many discus breeders decide upon using brine shrimp instead. High in both protein and fats, brine shrimp are an ideal food source, especially for young fry and juvenile discus.

Home cultivation

Like the white worms, brine shrimp can also be cultured at home. However, its cultivation is slightly more difficult. The best method for cultivating brine shrimp seems to be using a large glass jar with thick walls and slowly producing enough algal growth to support the brine shrimp.

By maintaining an ample amount of algae for the brine shrimp and keeping the salinity and oxygen levels at the appropriate parameters, the brine shrimp will be able to grow and eventually reproduce; a process that normally takes a relatively longer amount of time in comparison to the rearing of live white worms.

Looking for further referenes?

Chris Ingham, author of the book Discus World: A Complete Manual for the Discus Keeper, has many years of experience in the art of discus keeping, and has developed his own line of discus food that features a combination of the above food sources as well as additional vitamins and nutrients that meet the nutritional need of discus fish.

Discus Delights, is a popular option as it contains seven packets of food, one for each day of the week, that does not need to be frozen or refrigerated.

Containing a mixture of beef heart, brine shrimp, granules, earthworm, and tropical flake medley, these packets offer discus keepers an easy and convenient way to properly administer the correct combination of protein, fats, vitamins, and nutrients that are essential to both growing out and maintaining discus fish.

When it comes to providing the proper nutrition and diet for your discus fish, the right amount of time, money and energy ought to be invested in it. Lack of interest and energy in raising the pet will result in an unsuccessful and unhealthy discus tank.

Eating habits

In most cases, discus fish are rather easy to feed. They can occasionally be more demanding, however, but usually only if they’re experiencing frustration of some sort. Never offer discus fish food in excess. Only offer them what you think they can realistically take in within several minutes.

Although discus fish initially approach their food voraciously, this enthusiasm cools down quickly and they start casually munching, instead. Since discus fish are nowhere near aggressive about food, it isn’t a good idea to put them in the same aquarium with other fish. This could result in discus fish failing to eat and suffering the consequences through malnourishment.

Some items you can feed your discus with:

Hikari USA Inc. Tropical Discus Bio-Gold – 2.82oz 

Discus love this Bio-Gold product. It has special vitamins that make your Discus grow faster and enhances their colors. The granules sink to the bottom, and they have a strong meaty smell. They just smell fresh, and maybe that’s why the Discus love them so much.

Cobalt Aquatics Discus Hans Flake, 5 oz

  • Nutritional Diet for ultimate health, color and digestion
  • Contains probiotics (bacillus sp) to improve digestion and intestinal wellbeing
  • Less waste (cleaner aquarium)
  • Ingredients sourced from US and Canada
  • Made in the USA

Fish (discus, loaches and tetras) love this food. It dissolves quickly in the water making it easy for them to eat. It does not cloud the water in tank. Pour the product into a container, fill it with water, as the flakes settle to the bottom the bigger and heavier flakes sink quickest and the dust floating near the top can then be poured down the drain.

These items and precautions are all you need if you’re looking for a healthy and fully matured discus fish. If you precisely take care of these details, you’ll see a healthy and mature pet in your aquarium tank.

Related Questions

How Often Should I Feed My Discus? Under 3 months of age – feed ten to twelve times per day.Since younger discus has active metabolism and smaller stomach comparatively to larger, more mature fish hence it needs periodic feedings in order to grow healthy and properly
3 to 12 months of age – feed up to five times per day.Over 12 months of age – feed two to three times per day.

How to care for discus fish while on vacation? Do you want to go on relaxing vacations but you’re worried about your discus at home? Automatic fish feeders are just the right option for you. As the name suggests, an automatic fish feeder is an electronic device designed to feed your fish without you being nearby. In its simplest form, a fish feeder consists of a container filled with fish food and a programmable timer. You simply fill the container with dried fish food and program the timer for when and how often you want your fish fed – it takes less than 5 minutes to do! That’s really all there is to it. Now, you are free to walk away, and the automatic fish feeder will keep your fish’s tummies full.

How much should I feed them? Discus are grazers. They don’t always gobble the food as it drifts to the bottom of the tank instead, they take time to satiate their hunger, eating slowly but frequently.

That is due to their morphology, discus have grinders in their jaws instead of teeth, they eat with this process: They mouth the food, spit it out, and then recapture it before swallowing. This process causes food particles to fall to the bottom of the tank, but the discus isn’t done yet!

The discus can dispel water at foods resting on the bottom of the tank and then pick it up as it floats upwards. Since discus like to keep their grinders in use so after their main feeding, they will search for leftovers at the bottom of the tank and clean up the leftovers for up to an hour.

But that’s not the right attitude you would want your discus to adopt considering overfeeding can cause serious health issues in your discus and contamination of water which is really unlikable situation for discus and  failure to perform water changes especially after overfeeding will cause your discus to get sick and possibly die.

Therefore, it is important to make sure you keep your aquarium clean, changing out the water on a regular basis. This will remove rotted or decaying food wastes as well as the fecal matter from your discus fish. Also, be careful not to overfeed them keep a close eye on the food quantity.

Feed them only the amount of food that they can actively eat in about five minutes following a definite order in which food must be fed to prevent internal mayhem.


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